The FBHVC monthly report

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The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

December 2018

by Robin Astle.

From FBHVC 2018 Newsletter No 5

Legislation & Fuels by Bob Owen

It is probably a sign of the times that everything else I have to report on in this Edition is concerned in some way with environmental matters.

Low Emission and Clean Air Zones

The roll out of these zones continues.

Across England cities are starting to plan and consult upon their zones. As these consultations appear we respond should we think it necessary.

And as I have mentioned before, both Scotland and Wales have issued consultations on the framework for zones within their countries. In each case we have responded, seeking a level of exemption. In England and Wales we have generally accepted that the need for efficient administration of the zones by cameras means that the they should use the ‘historic’ tax class, which ANPR cameras can recognise. This means our exemptions apply to vehicles which are forty years old.

In Scotland they wish to use traffic exclusion zones, rather than charging zones as in England and Wales. So in Scotland, where there is no option of simply paying the charge for occasional trips within or through the zones, we have made a case for exemption of thirty year old vehicles, not least because residents might find themselves ‘trapped’ by such zones.

And in the case both of Wales and Scotland, we have taken steps, on which I will probably wish to say more in later Issues, to make sure we have in place visible local representation so that, amongst other advantages, we do not appear to be commenting from England on devolved matters.

Street Closures

I should also mention the cases where, within very local areas, at the moment in the City of London, Shoreditch, Islington and Hackney, local authorities are imposing a peak hour ban on all except electric (and some hybrid) vehicles on some of their most polluted streets. We have at the moment decided that these restrictions are akin to pedestrianisation schemes, to which we have never objected. Given the fact that they are peak hour only and that any exercise by our members of any exemption would thus be minimal, we have chosen not to question these schemes.

I would however be happy to hear from anyone who thinks they will be adversely affected, and how this would occur. I would be happy that the Federation work with anyone so affected to reach an individual solution.

Introduction of E10 Fuel

I come lastly to a matter which is of very great importance to some at least of our members, and is of long-term significance to us all, as it bears upon the very ability to use our vehicles in the future.

Many members will have been aware that the Federation was responding to a Department for Transport (DfT) Consultation on the subject, but a short explanation is probably useful to explain some of the confusion which we know has arisen.

There has for some time been a requirement, as a climate change control measure, contained in the EU Renewable Fuel Transport Obligation (RTFO) scheme. This mandates that given percentages of transport fuels must come from non-fossil fuel sources. While of course continued compliance with this requirement will be dependent on the outcome of Brexit, it is unlikely that the attitude of the UK Government to the justification of the principles of the RTFO will be altering any time soon.

Non-fossil fuel sources means bio-fuels, which in the case of petrol driven vehicles is ethanol. The feedstocks for these fuels are varied but in the UK are mainly wheat. A significant industry has built up to support this requirement.

There are defined standards for petrol with given percentages of ethanol, primarily E5 (no more than 5% ethanol) and E10 (not more than 10% ethanol). To date no supplier in the UK has offered E10 at the pumps, though it is quite common across the Channel.

The Government has recently increased the RTFO targets and is now putting pressure on the fuel supply industry to make E10 fuel available at the pumps at least on larger forecourts. The vast majority of modern vehicles have been designed to run on this fuel with no problems.

Most of our vehicles, not having been designed to deal with the properties of ethanol in fuels systems and engines, are adversely affected by ethanol in petrol, and the adverse effects are greater the higher the percentage of ethanol the petrol contains. Up till now, no fuel supplier has offered in the UK a petrol which exceeds a percentage of 5% ethanol, known as E5.

Quite separately, a number of our members have vehicles which can only run on petrol with a higher octane rating than the standard grade (defined as 95RON [Research Octane Number]). This need has been met by the use of what DfT refers to as the Super grade of petrol (as we know the description varies brand by brand). These fuels are defined as 97RON and have actual octane ratings between 97 and 99. These fuels also meet the E5 standard, and indeed some contain less than 5% ethanol.

From the introduction of E5 fuel until the end of 2016 there was a ‘protection grade’ which had to be supplied, which could not exceed 5% ethanol. But it was also set at 97RON. This position basically supported all of our members, including those with higher compression/performance engines.

In its recent Consultation, DfT makes clear it actively wishes the introduction of E10 fuel on at least the larger forecourts. DfT does recognise that this will require a re-introduction of a protection grade. However, it wishes that grade to be set at 95RON and E5.

DfT is making this recommendation primarily to protect the owners of simply incompatible old vehicles, which it defines as being over 25 years old, which are generally in use, i.e. not being preserved. It wishes to protect these owners, who it perceives as being poorer, from having to pay for a high octane fuel their vehicles do not require.

The DfT is also proposing this protection grade only lasts for two years, which the Federation believes if too short to be of any use at all.

The view of the Federation is that the constraints on tankage and petrol pumps will mean that the availability of the current Super grade may well be lost, which could make some of our members’ vehicles unusable.

Therefore, the Federation, while not opposing the introduction of E10 fuel as such, is arguing strongly for the protection grade to be, as before, the 97RON E5 grade. We are also arguing that the period for the protection grade continuation should be five, not two years.

DVLA by Ian Edmunds

I should start with a correction to the FAQs regarding the new vehicle licensing and MoT process that appeared in the last Newsletter. As always, we are indebted to members who have written to us to share their experiences. From this it seems that for pre-1960 vehicles, that is vehicles which were exempt from MoT prior to May 20 this year, the licensing system will permit them to be licensed without requiring a statement of exemption from the keeper. Thus, for the on-line system (EVL) the relevant page will not appear and at a Post Office the clerk will not be prompted to request a completed V112 form.

Although we are not necessarily convinced this is how the procedure was intended to work it should not be a cause for concern to the owner/keeper. If the process is completed in this manner the vehicle will be correctly licensed. This point is one of several pertaining to the new MoT regime which are the subject of ongoing discussions between the Federation and DfT/DVLA. We are also bringing to the notice of DVLA reports we are receiving of some Post Offices being unaware of the new procedures and in one case flatly denying they exist!



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